We caught up with Nikki Watson, Founder of Mahima Rides to talk about an upcoming horse riding adventure in India on the Marwari horses.
L.N Tell us about yourself
N.W I’m Nikki, a horse rider from the UK and Australia. After ten years in a corporate career role, I decided to pursue my love of horses and travel the world whilst doing so.
L.N Tell us about Mahima Rides
N.W Mahima Rides was established to explore, promote and conserve the indigenous horse breeds of India. I journeyed to India in 2015 to ride Marwari horses, a native breed of India. It was through this ride that I realised how rich and ancient India’s equestrian culture is, and how many indigenous breeds India has that are not widely known about in Western equestrian communities. Through the journey of Mahima Rides, I hope to raise awareness of these beautiful breeds by travelling to different parts of India and discovering the native horses and ponies in each region.
L.N Where is the first stage of the ride going to be?
N.W The first stage is in Rajasthan, an absolutely incredible part of India. Rajasthan is so vibrant, colourful and varied. Rajasthan literally translates to the “Land of Kings”, as it was a princely state, so the area is full of magnificent and ancient forts, brightly painted Havelis, stunning architecture and history. It’s a fascinating part of India and significant to the ride because Rajasthan is steeped in equestrian history and folklore. Specifically the Marwari breed, who were historically highly significant to the rulers of Rajasthan as they were used as their cavalry horses.
L.N Tell us a bit more about the Marwari breed of Horse
N.W The Marwari is known for having curled ears that meet at the top. They are spirited, intelligent and typically very affectionate. They make excellent endurance horses, as they were bred for speed and stamina in the Rajasthan desert terrain. Under current Indian law, Marwari’s are currently banned from being exported, making this ride with these unique animals a once in a lifetime experience. The Marwari breed came under serious threat at one point because when the British invaded India, they imported their own thoroughbreds and Australian Waler breeds, which meant the native horses of India became neglected. It’s taken many years, and the dedication of ethical breeders, to bring the Marwari horseback to its rightful glory.
L.N Who breeds and looks after the Marwari horses that you will be riding?
N.W The horses you will ride come from Dundlod stables, which is owned by Raghuvendra Singh Dundlod, who has been breeding and running conservation programmes for the Marwari horse for nearly thirty years now. In addition, he is the Founder of the Indigenous Horse Society of India, who are supporting the rides.
L.N Where are the rest of the rides going to take place?
L.N The rides will be all over India. After Rajasthan, I will move up into Punjab again on Marwari horses. After that, I will journey to the East to discover the Manipuri ponies. The rest of the stages will be planned pending the weather patterns, but they will include Kashmir for the Zaniskari breed, the Spiti pony in Himachal Pradesh, the Deccan Pony in the Deccan Plateau and the tropical South of India on Kathiawari and Marwari’s again.
For more information and bookings visit Instagram @mahimarides or email email@example.com